Seemingly Wonderful Catering :

Food Safety Awareness & How To Order Catering . . Part V

Susan C. Friedenberg, President & CEO of Philadelphia-based Corporate Flight Attendant Training & Services, continues her series of articles on food safety and discusses the importance of storing and maintaining your catering once its delivered to the FBO.

My four previous articles have spoken about the detail and intricacies in knowing where and how to order safe catering for business aircraft. Best practices are crucial when feeding the people we fly as well as our crews.

We are all now aware that the three main contaminates are biological, chemical and physical. We know what the difference is between food poisoning and an outbreak and we have discussed your responsibility around Due Diligence, whether you’re a trained or untrained ‘acting’ corporate flight attendant, a pilot, an S&D, a handling company, or a charter operation. We have discussed the questions to ask caterers and being cognizant about other possible venues for sourcing catering like restaurants, hotels and food stores. We’ve discussed the ways in which we pack our catering to keep it temperature-safe in the delivery process and how to avoid food sabotage by the manner in which it’s packed, i.e. sealed and transported to you from its origin to your aircraft or FBO.

What we have not discussed is the condition of the FBO's kitchen facility and how they store and maintain your food/catering once it is delivered.

The FBO’s responsibilities in keeping your catering & galley equipment safe & clean

Ask them who cleans your dishes and where?

I once walked into an FBO and found Line Service washing my plates, glasses and utensils in the bathroom. That is UNACCEPTABLE. It is your responsibility to look at the facility and if you’re not satisfied with their ability to clean your galley items correctly, take them with you to the hotel and have the hotel's kitchen clean them.

Are they hand washing or using a dishwasher? (198 degrees Fahrenheit - 92.2 Degrees Celsius)

If you are not washing things on the aircraft and choose to hand them over to Line Service, what is the correct temperature for sterilization of your items? Many aircraft have expensive China or sterling silver flatware and do not want them put through a dish washer.

Do not accept unwrapped/tampered catering from the FBO

This is proof that ‘someone’ had their hands in your catering. If Line Service is bringing you your catering and your ice (which is food) where were their hands prior to this? Servicing a lavatory with no gloves on or possibly not washed? What method/vehicle did they use to deliver the catering to the aircraft? Was it on a dirty tug that has aircraft chocks piled next to your catering?

The FBO should have a commercial refrigerator

These are larger then a standard refrigerator and can accommodate many boxes of multi-catering orders for outbound aircraft.

The refrigerator should not have stacked trays, (cross contamination) and should only be used for NEW catering

If your caterer delivers catering on trays which are not in sealed boxes, and they are stacked on top of each other in a refrigerator, you risk the cross contamination factor. This is also possible in foiled containers that are full and can leak. If the food is tainted and any part of it leaks into another tray or container, you have now contaminated the second tier of food. Catering should not be stacked. In our Corporate Flight Attendant Training classes, we train flight attendants to ask the caterer to insert the microwave containers or the oven tins into sealed zip lock bags to avoid cross contamination. Another option is to double wrap each oven tin or microwave container with saran wrap. Trays can be ‘shrink wrapped’ and then sealed.

No employee food or food being held from other aircraft by a Flight Attendant for over-night holding should be permitted in the new outbound catering refrigerator. That is now contaminated food

FBO's should segregate new catering from employee food or ‘held’ catering from RON aircraft.

Does the FBO maintain a cooler temperature log which is a charted record on the inside of the refrigerator?

This is something that needs to be checked at least daily. The purpose of a refrigerator is to slow down the growth of bacteria. The correct temperature zones are 35-38 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1.6-3.4 degrees Celsius.

Does anyone have access to the refrigerator? Do they keep it locked to prevent food sabotage?

This is self explanatory. Only the CSR's or Line Service should be able to have access to the catering.

Does the FBO leave your company name and tail number out in open view on the counter?

This is very dangerous. All delivered catering should be brought directly to the kitchen area and put into the refrigerator. No one should see your company name and tail number. Not all FBO's have security.

All of these measures ensure food safety and security measures!

3 December 2009

Susan C. Friedenberg - President & CEO
Corporate Flight Attendant Training & Services
Telephone # 215.625.4811

Susan is available to present this topic and other Business Aviation Flight Attendant related safety topics at conferences, annual meetings and organizational meetings.

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